U.S. Mint Air Force medal features professor’s design

U.S. Mint Air Force medal features professor’s design
Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A new medal issued by the United States Mint features the work of Associate Professor of Art Jamie Franki. The first release in the United States Armed Forces Silver Medal Program, the medal honors the U.S. Air Force. It was designed by Franki and artist Paul Balan, both of whom are designers in the United States Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program.

Balan’s obverse (heads) design depicts a fighter jet pilot flying alongside two F-35 fighter jets with the inscription “U.S. Air Force.” Franki’s reverse design features the three spires of the Air Force Memorial, with members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard in ceremonial assembly. “Integrity First,” “Service Before Self” and “Excellence in All We Do” — the core values of the Air Force — are inscribed around the medal’s perimeter. Both designs were sculpted by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill.

“The three-spired Air Force memorial seen on my reverse design is said to commemorate the exhaust contrails from a ceremonial Thunderbirds flyover formation used by the U.S. Air Force to pay respect to a fallen pilot,” Franki said. “This formation usually has four planes, so the ‘missing’ plane conspicuous in its absence is the honored pilot. I designed the airman's rifle to be positioned in the location of the missing fourth contrail — the bayonet being the ‘tip of the spear.’”

Read more on the College of Arts + Architecture website.